Highlights From Sarah Friar’s Closing Keynote

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Lessons from the Square CFO’s powerful closing keynote and exclusive backstage interview with Women 2.0.

By Jessica Schimm (Editorial Assistant, Women 2.0)

Sarah Friar walked in with a presence to close a packed house last Thursday afternoon at the Women 2.0 conference. What did we learn from the CFO of Square? Well, for one, she likes numbers, but more importantly, having a big vision, can-do attitude and doing work that gives you an adrenaline rush are some of the key ingredients to her success, and, well, happiness.

She also shared with Women 2.0 how she manages the work/life balance -calling it a work/life integration, and to not let fear dictate your decisions in an exclusive backstage interview. Let’s break down her lessons.

Have a Big Vision

Start small, Friar said, but don’t narrow the vision.

Optimism is Key

When an intimidating opportunity comes by for either the company, or yourself, it can be easy to brush the request off with a simple ‘no’. Friar suggested to flip the script:

“Find all of the reasons to say yes, not all of the reasons to say no.”

Do Work That Gives You an Adrenaline Rush

Make sure you’re excited about your work. Even before we think about the kinds of jobs we want, we should ask ourselves what really matters to us. As she said on stage:

“Do what you love… What is it that matters to you?”

Work/Life Balance  Integration

In an interview backstage Friar told us that there really is no work/life ‘balance’ so to speak. In today’s world, it’s about work/life integration.

“During the day, if I have to book a doctors appointment, or I need to run outside to buy a birthday present for the six-year-old birthday that I’m taking my son to at the weekend, I have no guilt. That has to get done. But on the weekend if I’m [near] the playground, and I need to quickly check an email or something that just needs urgent attention, again I have no guilt.”

She added that being open with your children is an important part to integrating the two lifestyles.

“…it’s being very honest, even with your children… A lot of people treat their children like they’re too young to understand; absolutely not. They want to be part of it.”

Be Quantitative

Do you use numbers in conversation? In a Women 2.0 backstage interview, Friar told us that women should be using numbers more.

“I’m not afraid to be quantitative. I think a lot of women shy away from utilizing numbers or utilizing more quantitative facts even in conversation. You shouldn’t, its a great thing to back up what you’re saying, albeit qualitative with the facts of the case.”

Assemble Your Own Personal Board of Directors

Friar doesn’t recommend a ‘single’ mentor, but a variety of them -each one serving a different purpose. She also said not to only look to higher-ups for mentorship because you can learn a lot from everyone around you. In fact, Friar added her own children to her personal Board of Directors. Assemble your own Board of Directors by following Friar’s strategy here.

Go For It, Don’t Be Afraid

Friar explained that she felt a lot of pressure to take a more traditional route and thought that because she did well in school and science that she should become a doctor or lawyer. It had never occurred to her to be an entrepreneur.

“I grew up in Northern Ireland, this very poor area, and I worried about all these things like student debt and so forth, and I think I let a lot of fear guide me in the beginning, taking the safe route, instead of just, you know, going for it. And I think I’ve grown a lot more comfortable as I’ve gotten older, to go for it, but I always wish I would have done it earlier.”

Sarah Friar from Women 2.0 on Vimeo.

What did you learn from Sarah Friar?

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Jessica Schimm (@JessicaSchimm) is the assistant editor at Women 2.0. She is a recent graduate of San Francisco State where she earned a B.A. in journalism and was the editor-in-chief of SF State’s Her Campus chapter. She has a strong interest in women’s topics and writes about them on her blog.